North Carolina Newspapers

    Michelle Obama’s War oh
Childhood Obesity
Aleigha Page Staff Writer
First Lady Michelle Obama
recently announced her plans for
an effort to end childhood obesity.
Her program for healthier eat
ing habits of American children
is coined “healthy eating, healthy
families,” and it will focus on show
ing American families the value of
a nutritious and balanced diet and
teaching them how to jumpstart a
healthy lifestyle in the home. The
First Lady notes in a Januaiy 20,
2010 USA Today article by Nanci
Hellmich that “this has nothing to
do with whether you’re a Democrat
or a Republican, liberal or conser
vative. It’s about the future we want
for our kids.”
Childhood obesity has been a
growing epidemic for approximate
ly a decade. With food portion sizes
ballooning, outdoor play decreas
ing, and junk food commercials
everywhere, this is not surprising.
But obesity brings a slew of health
concerns such as heart disease,
diabetes, and high cholesterol in
addition to many psychological ail
ments. People who are overweight
are more vulnerable to having high
levels of anxiety and depression.
This is especially unhealthy for chil
dren, who rely on interaction with
their peers for development. The
teasing of other children can be so
damaging that the low self esteem
follows a person for years, even if
they do manage to lose the weight.
But regardless of all these factors, .
the rate of childhood obesity is
growing, not de
creasing, across the
nation, and this is an
issue the First Lady
hopes to address.
On Januaiy 20,
2010, the First Lady
spoke to a group of
mayors concerning
the issue of obesity
in their communi
ties. Mrs. Obama
attributes the gains
in obesity to a variety
of sources. One of
those sources is
that there are busy
parents who do not
have the time make a
nutritious meal. In an October 13,
2009 CBS News article by Amanda
Sterling Mrs. Obama admits to
“coming after a long day to hungry
children who want something fast
like pizza” and giving it to them
because it was easy—illustrating
that she obviously understands the
plights of parents across the na
tion. In fact her inspiration for the
campaign came from her parent
ing. The First Lady was inspired
to jumpstart this campaign in part
because she noticed her oldest
daughter, Malia, began to put on
a few extra pounds after the onset
of an early puberty. Her daughter’s
pediatrician noted that the young
girl was overweight for her age
bracket, and for the First Lady, this
was an alarming wake up call. It
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was even more alarming when Mrs.
Obama discovered that one third
(1/3) of children are overweight,
and these factors led her to choose
to make a public campaign to battle
childhood obesity.
Foremost, the First Lady wants
to implement changes in the way
children eat and view food. The
January 20,2010 USA Today article
by Nancy Hellmich explains that
her plan is “to put in place common-
sense initiatives and solutions that
empower families and communi
ties to make healthy decisions for
their kids.” The initiative will have
four main focuses: healthy school
lunches, better physical education
programs, affordability and bet
ter access to healthy foods, and a
consumer campaign to publicize the
issue.
The First Lady begins the battle
against obesity in the public school
system. School lunches are known
for their less then optimal choices
which typically include pizza, cheese
sticks, hamburgers, and other
unhealthy options. The First Lady
would like for school systems to
step up the level of nutrition served
in cafeterias. Many school systems
across the countiy no longer offer
sugary juices, cookies, and chips,
but instead they promote nutritious
and filling “extras” such as fruits
and yogurts. Mrs. Obama applauds
these efforts and hopes many
schools will follow their example.
Additionally, the First Lady argues
that improved physical education
programs would entice children to
First Ladies
Throughout th
Ages
Aleigha Page, Staff Writer
The title “first lady” refers to the
woman who serv’es as hostess to the
White House. She is typically the wife
of the President. From the early roots
of American history, “first ladies” have
serv^ed the nation by promoting a philan
thropic passion to the American popula
tion. Here are the chosen movements of
several famous first ladies throughout the
years:
• Dolley Madison created the role
of “first lady.” She promoted the welfare
of orphans. Her most famous contribu
tion was saving the portrait of Washing
ton when the Wliite House caught fire.
• Eleanor Roosevelt traveled the
nation and attended functions for Frank
lin Roosevelt when he was too ill.,
• Pat Nixon encouraged voliintcer-
ing.
• Lady Bird Johnson advocated
beautification of the nation’s highways
and environmentalism.
• Rosalyn Carter championed for
those with disabilities.
Nancy Reagan created the “Just
Say No” anti-drug movement.
• Laura Bush campaigned to ;•
promote child literacy and create malaria
awareness.
• Michelle Obama is now address
ing and advocating for a reduction of
childhood obesity.
get up and exercise. Many children sim
ply come home from school, have a snack,
maybe do their homework, and plop down
in front of the television, game console, or
computer when they should be outdoors
playing. Children need a lot of physical
activity to properly grow and maintain their
health and their favorite activities provide
none.
The official launch of the initiative will
take place in mid-February according to
White House press releases. Mrs. Obama
has a great campaign, but her goals are
ambitious, stretching across the nation. She
argues, however, that her passion for the
campaign and personal interest as a parent
will help her make this a success. The First
Lady says, reported by Nanci Hellmich of
USA Today, “When I tuck my girls into bed
at night, I think about wanting them to be
happy and healthy, and have every chance
to follow their aspirations. What I want for
my daughters is what I want for eveiy child*
in America,” and she truly seems to mean it.
    

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